Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
A Private Heaven by Dave Eagleston is based on the true story of two brothers, Dave and Marv Eagleston, and how their volatile and abusive childhood affected them as adults. Reserved and sensitive Marv would shoulder the majority of the physical and verbal abuse from their prizefighting, alcoholic father, while Dave became a helpless bystander. Follow their story as each brother's life takes a different path. When Marv reached fourteen, a visitor to their home would ignite a change in attitude towards his parents from fear to contempt and this began a string of events that would result in his incarceration. As Marv became a hardened criminal with a hatred of authority, Dave completed a tour of Vietnam and started a family with his wife Barbara. As Dave begins his new role as a commercial aviator in Newfoundland, his wife struggles to come to terms with the drastic upheaval of her new surroundings. Meanwhile, Marv has become indoctrinated into the prison system and moves up the ranks in a prison organization. When Marv is released, he seems to have found a reason to change his life for the better but he makes one bad decision that may cost him more than anyone was bargaining for.
The storytelling by Dave Eagleston is exceptional. He transports you into each and every situation so vividly that it triggers every one of your emotions. The descriptive narrative is also absolute perfection, especially the beautiful scenery of Newfoundland. The brutality Marv endured was particularly hard to read and this sentence summed up his psychological state so well; 'Sounds of his heart breaking and his fragile character slowly eroding, one cruel beating at a time.' I resonated with the character of Barbara and her desperate attempt to adjust to new surroundings while Dave was working away. Her character at one point became a shell of her former self and I admired how Dave managed to keep his family together. I also admired how Dave dealt with his anxiety and overcame his fear in the many situations he had to face. I loved how the author switched from his own story to that of Marv's effortlessly. It gave the reader the opportunity to examine both brothers' life journeys very effectively. A Private Heaven highlights the consequences of childhood trauma and abuse, but also the ramifications of making ill-thought-out choices based on emotion, not rational thinking. There were many great lessons throughout too, such as the amazing advice work colleague Jack gave to Dave regarding relationships and the excellent manner in which Dave dealt with the rude hotel desk manager. A Private Heaven is filled with excitement, adventure and heartbreaking scenes of loss, grief and personal challenges. A great book and one that I would recommend.